Exchange students have access to a wide variety of subjects and courses including engineering, business, humanities and the social sciences. Most students take 4-5 classes each semester. Students often use their time at UVM to take classes that aren’t offered at their home university. Sometimes they explore additional topics in their field of study and sometimes they take a class that is completely unrelated to their program at home—both are options! American universities value an education that is very broad and includes courses in many different subjects. If a student’s home university allows it, we encourage students to select at least one course that is not related to their program of study at home to experience the broad education that American universities offer. Sometimes exchange students learn more about a personal interest, such as a class in physical education or art history. Others might learn more about the state of Vermont or the US, such as a class in American history or politics. Students who have appropriate pre-requisite coursework from their home universities are able to enroll in most courses at UVM. Advanced undergraduate courses in psychology and certain fine arts subjects are not open to exchange students. Additionally, graduate courses in psychology, business and medicine are not open to exchange students.
Some exchange students, especially students who come for the full academic year, have special experiences that add value to their exchange. Students have been able to join research projects and get hands-on experience. Others have been teaching assistants in classes. The visa for exchange students also allows them to have an internship in a field related to their studies. Some students have taken advantage of this opportunity to learn more and get practical experience in their field.
Living in Vermont
Exchange students at UVM are required to live on campus. Different housing options are available but they all include a meal plan. UVM’s Dining Services offers many food options and can accommodate dietary needs such as vegetarian or gluten-free meals.
Most rooms are double rooms – students share space with another exchange student or a degree-seeking student at UVM. Living on campus allows students to be close to their friends – in the USA, students are more likely to form friends through their residence hall than through classes…those are the people you see every day, after all! Exchange students are able to stay in their housing over break periods for a small additional fee.
UVM is in the town of Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is the largest city in Vermont and is located on one of the largest lakes in the US. Campus is just a 10-15 minute walk to the center of the city and about a 20 minute walk to the lake front. The city has so many options – there are nightly music performances downtown, a comedy club, a downtown area of shops and restaurants, a 19-kilometer bike path along the lake, a bus system (free for students!), and so much more. Burlington is a safe city that many exchange students don’t want to leave when their year is over!
When students are looking for a weekend in a bigger city, there is easy access. Buses run to Montreal (2 hours), Boston (3.5 hours) and New York City (7 hours). Additionally, the Burlington International Airport (BTV) is just 5km from campus and offers service to additional cities.
The Student Experience
UVM has many opportunities for exchange students to be involved in campus life through clubs and organizations. Past exchange students have done things like join the Swing and Salsa Society, the debate team, and UVM’s own radio station. Students can get involved in music ensembles, religious groups, student government, and community service organizations. More information can be found on the Student Government Association’s website.
Sports are another popular option for students. The student gym on campus offers many different types of classes and leagues. Exchange student can join (or form!) intramural teams and compete against other UVM student teams in many sports, including some unusual ones, like trench ball. Some exchange students also choose to compete against other schools through club sports teams, which means more training/skill, but can be a great way to meet American students.
Competition is not the only way to get outdoors in Vermont. We have great options for being out in nature all year round through hiking, camping, and winter sports. Burlington is close to some of the best skiing on the East Coast, and UVM’s Ski and Snowboard Club runs a bus to mountains during the spring semester. Ski resorts open in mid to late November but good snow cover is not usually available until January. Students who want to go hiking, camping, or even bird-watching can participate in activities with the Outing Club throughout the year. Students who want to get outdoors can also borrow different kinds of equipment from UVM at a small cost – for example, snowshoes can be rented for just $10 – this is great for exchange students who want to try a new activity but won’t be in Vermont long enough to want to buy the equipment.
The Office of International Education regularly hosts events for students to make friends, learn about Vermont, and make the most of their exchange at UVM. Check out our calendar to get an idea of what we offer.
Exchange students have access to many different support services on campus. The Office of International Education provides a required new student orientation, advising as students adjust to living in the US, and programming to help students connect with a community and to learn about US and UVM culture.
Other offices on campus provide a wide range of free services including tutoring and special support for students with documented disabilities. UVM has a Writing Center for students who want peer support in improving their written arguments, a Career Center to search for on and off-campus work experiences, an LGBTQA Center, its own Student Health Center which includes physical and mental health services, and many other specialized options. As students get settled on campus, the Office of International Education meets with students to see which resources might be helpful to them.
In many ways, UVM is a traditional US university – it is a beautiful campus with historic buildings, an on-campus living experience, plenty of chances to cheer on the sports teams (UVM’s teams are called the Catamounts). Many of the things students expect of US universities are also true at UVM.
UVM also has a unique culture that places value on social justice and caring for the environment. Students can see these values reflected around campus including in course offerings, in themed living areas and in student clubs and organizations. Students can take a class on Race in the USA or apply to become a student “eco-rep” and help make campus greener by supporting programs to compost and recycle. These are small examples of the ways that these values are reflected.
All of these values tied to UVM’s statement on Our Common Ground. This statement is a summary of what UVM hopes and tries to be. You can read it here.
How the Exchange Program Works
Although each exchange program with UVM is a bit different, all UVM exchanges cover the tuition costs at UVM – you pay your tuition at home, and a UVM student will pay their tuition here, and then you basically trade places. There are other expenses, of course. Some exchange programs to UVM cover the student fees, and some cover the housing and meal plan. Check with your home institution to understand what is covered in their agreement either directly with UVM or through ISEP. If your home University nominates you to UVM, you will upload proof of the finances for the parts of the exchange not covered when you complete your application.
Paying for the Extras
An important part of planning for your exchange is budgeting enough money for all of the extras. During your exchange, you can control how much money you spend on little things like coffee and meals downtown, and big “extras” like travel. You should also budget for unexpected expenses. Even if you plan not to get sick or buy new clothes, you might still need to buy medicine or a warm coat. To help you plan your expenses, the section below has some sample costs. All prices are in US dollars.
Small cup of coffee
Tip: Many coffee shops in the US offer a discount if you bring a reusable mug. Bring or buy one in the US and use it to save money!
Books for one semester
Textbooks in the US can be very expensive. You can sometimes save money by buying them online.
Tip: The dining hall offers meals to go as part of your meal plan. Plan ahead to get a meal to go and save money!
Meal in a restaurant
Alcohol and dessert not included in the cost. They can add $5-$20 or more to the bill. And remember, in the US you tip your server!
Movie ticket downtown
Tip: There are many free events on campus and downtown. Plus, on Monday and Tuesdays, you can get free movie tickets from UVM Student Life.
Round-trip bus ticket to Boston
Holiday or last-minute travel may cost much more. And booking early can help make it cheaper. As you make friends, you might also be able to grab a ride with someone who has a car.
Housing in the residence halls during school breaks
$150 per week
Tip: Break housing does not include meals. Plan ahead to make sure that you have enough money for food.